His Steadfast Love
God’s love is a comfort, but it is also a mystery. We can truthfully say “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16; that’s what the Sunday morning sermon was all about). But, at the same time we can admit that God’s love is a mystery.
The Old Testament often uses a Hebrew word to talk about God’s love. The word is transliterated “Chesed” and in various passages and translations might by translated as “steadfast love” (ESV, RSV), “lovingkindness” (NASB), “love” (NIV), or “mercy” (KJV). The reason so many options are out there is that the word refers to all of those things and more. Chesed often refers to God’s love for his people describing his commitment, patience, unwavering compassion, and goodness.
Psalm 136 is the perfect passage to illustrate the breadth of God’s love for us, because it follows a clear pattern. It calls for praise and then explains “his steadfast love endures forever.” We see that in verse 1:
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever (v. 1)
One reason we should be thankful to the Lord is his constant, sure love. It will endure forever. But there are many, many more dimensions to the love of God. For example, verse 5 links God creating the sky with his love. All of vv. 4–9 link God’s work of creation with his love for his people.
to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever (v. 5)
But, God’s love goes beyond creation. Verses 10–16 talk about his love in redemption from Egypt. Verses 13–14 describe God working to deliver his people and save them.
to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever (vv. 13–14)
But, God’s love is not only work for us, it is also at work to restrain evil and defeat our enemies. Verse 17 says:
to him who struck down great kings
for his steadfast love endures forever (v. 17)
There are a thousand ways God pour out his lovingkindness from creating the sun in the sky, to dividing the sea, to defeating our enemies. God’s love is a sure comfort, but it is also a mystery in how to understand it and all of the ways God loves us…
It is a mystery that God would choose to love sinners.
It is a mystery that he would send his only son.
It is a mystery that he would bestow his love without limit on us such that Romans 8 can say, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (vv. 38–9).
Today, I hope you will think on the grandeur of God’s love and all of the ways he’s shown it.